New Delhi: Parliament passed a bill Monday which seeks to prohibit the production, trade, transport, storage and advertisement of electronic cigarettes in the country.
The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Bill, 2019, was passed in Rajya Sabha with a voice vote. It was passed in Lok Sabha earlier this month.
The government had issued an ordinance to ban e-cigarettes in September this year. The new law would replace the ordinance.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the government has brought in the bill in order to control the problem at the onset before it becomes too big to handle.
“All my life, I have fought against tobacco lobby. You (members) should not have any suspicion about our intentions. We want to nip this problem in the bud,” Vardhan said in the Rajya Sabha while replying to various queries of the opposition members.
Once the consumer base of a product becomes big, like in the case of regular tobacco products and alcohol, it is not easy to control the situation, added the minister.
Vardhan said it was important to being in the ordinance in September this year as big companies were gearing up to launch their products in the country.
“The same tobacco companies are also promoting e-cigarettes… as conventional business is going down, these companies are now promoting new methods like e-cigarettes…,” added Harsh Vardhan.
It is easy for children to get addicted to e-cigarettes, so urgent steps were required, the minister said. “So, there is no vested interest. We are not guided by tobacco companies. We have brought this bill with most sincere and pious intentions. It is very important to take care of the health of our children,” asserted Vardhan.
Vardhan said the entire government was in sync to take action against tobacco usage in the country. “Honestly, it will be the happiest the day for me when every kind of tobacco product is banned in the country,” Vardhan said.
During the debate on the bill, some members expressed apprehensions that the government had brought this bill under pressure from tobacco lobby and demanded the ban be extended to raw tobacco and
The bill defines electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) as electronic devices that heat a substance, which may contain nicotine and other chemicals, to create vapour for inhalation. The bill provides for imprisonment of up to one year, or a fine of up to Rs 1,00,000, or both to a first-time violator.
For any subsequent offence, the bill states that the crime will be punishable with an imprisonment of up to three years, along with a fine of up to Rs 5,00,000.